Cars, like almost every other high-dollar purchase in your life, have warranties. In the best of times, the warranty is there to protect you from defects in the car, meaning that if something breaks and it’s the manufacturer’s fault, they’ll pay for it. That doesn’t, however, give you free license to do with the car as you please. There are a number of actions you can take that void the warranty or change what it actually covers.
Manufacturer Warranties vs. Extended Warranties The warranty that came from the vehicle manufacturer is the only thing that we’re talking about in this story.
“Extended warranties" are not warranties at all. They’re prepaid service contracts that are between you and the company that administers it, and the things that can void those warranties can fill a separate story. If you’re buying an extended warranty be sure to read the contract to learn about what can void it.
When you purchased your car, it came with several warranties against defects from the manufacturer. The original warranties include:
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Not all vehicle manufacturers handle warranty claims or issues in the same way, so it’s important to understand what is and isn’t covered by your vehicle warranty. If you’re planning on modifying or racing your vehicle, get in touch with the dealer’s service department or the manufacturer’s help line to determine where you’ll land on the spectrum of voided warranties.
Even if you’ve modified a vehicle or abused it in some way, there may be cases when the manufacturer gives you a pass by only voiding the warranty on the portion of the vehicle that applies to a specific issue. The overall warranty remains on the rest of the vehicle, but you’ll have lost access to coverage for a specific part.
When you take your vehicle to the shop for a warranty repair, the technicians will assess the problem and make a determination on whether or not it will be covered by warranty. If the tech finds modifications or signs that you have abused the vehicle, they may report that the repair will not be covered by the warranty. This can also occur if the part is not part of the originally stated warranty coverage. Some manufacturers exclude parts like turbochargers and other components from the original coverage, so it’s important to know what is and isn’t covered when you head to the shop.
There are several situations that can cause your entire vehicle warranty to be voided.
There are obviously situations where a warranty-voiding action is unavoidable, but in general, it’s quite easy to keep your vehicle’s warranty intact.
You might be able to get away with this, but we’re not going to advocate for taking this action. Non-intrusive modifications, such as air intakes and aftermarket wheels, don’t necessarily cause damage when installed, but proceed at your own risk.
You don’t need to have all service performed at the dealership to keep the warranty, but you’ll need to keep a detailed record of all services that you’ve performed to prove that the vehicle was not neglected.
If you think you’ve been on the losing end of a warranty dispute, your best first step is to talk with the dealer and its finance department. The dealer is the first line of defense for warranty claims, and can go a long way toward settling the dispute. The ultimate resolution of the warranty dispute will vary based on your vehicle, the dealer, and its manufacturer, but all issues should start with the place where you purchased the vehicle.
In most cases, the dealership will take care of the communication around what gets fixed and who pays for it, but if you’re having the repair work done at an independent dealership or shop, you may be responsible for handling some of the process yourself. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find contact information for the manufacturer’s warranty department. Contact them for information prior to taking your vehicle to an independent repair shop.
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